November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Washington, D.C.- “US Topo” is the next generation of topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey. Digital US Topo maps are designed to look, feel, and perform like the traditional paper topographic maps for which the USGS is so well known. However, in contrast to paper-based maps, US Topo maps provide technical advantages that support faster, wider public distribution and enable basic, on-screen geographic analysis for all users.
“The public's high regard for USGS topographic maps stretches over a century,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Because Survey maps consistently describe our nation's entire landscape, they are the standard mapping reference for scientists, land managers, property owners, and every variety of outdoor enthusiast.”
“So I am very pleased,” continued Secretary Salazar, “that this new type of USGS topographic map not only preserves the best qualities of older topographic maps but now, in a popular digital format, can better serve both specialized users and the general public.”
Arranged in the familiar 7.5-minute quadrangle format, US Topo maps are available free on the Web. Each map quadrangle is constructed in GeoPDF® format from key layers of geographic data — orthoimagery, roads, geographic names, topographic contours, and hydrographic features — found in The National Map, a nationwide collection of integrated data from local, state, federal, and other sources.
“The USGS has always been at the forefront of new mapping technologies, but what distinguishes US Topo is the new methodology for delivering the product to users from all walks of life,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “These digital maps can be as simple or as sophisticated as the need dictates, easily customized on the spot.”
US Topo users can turn geographic data layers on and off as needed, zoom in and out to highlight specific features or see a broader context, and print the maps — in their entirety or in customized sections — on a wide variety of printing devices. File size for each digital US Topo 7.5-minute quadrangle, about 15-20 megabytes, is convenient for most computer users. Electronic analytical tools are also available for free download.
“Everyone who learns about this new kind of USGS topographic map immediately wants to know how it compares to other electronic maps available on the Internet,” said Mark DeMulder, Chief of the USGS National Geospatial Program. “Here is how US Topo differs from most other electronic maps:
· Nationally consistent data quality assured to high standards
· Looks and feels like legacy paper USGS topographic maps but has technical advantages
The prototype of US Topo, Digital Map – Beta, has been available since June 2009. A US Topo map includes all of the content of the earlier Digital Map – Beta plus integrated contours and hydrographic features. As the US Topo product evolves, the USGS will provide digital, historical versions of USGS topographic map quadrangles and will incorporate additional geographic data layers from The National Map.